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on January 3, 2000
A highly-readable little paperback with a different perspective of the generations; your own, those before you, and those soon to follow. The book is enjoying a good run as a best-seller, living proof many among us must be anxiety-ridden and looking for answers.
Say to yourself: "Life isn't an emergency" advises Dr. Carlson, and admits this is his essential strategy on how to keep little things from taking over your life. Then, along with this, he confronts the reader with the realization (often unrecognized) that life is made up of "little things."
Each of the hundred short chapters contains ideas and true-life examples of how to work around the little things so life will be more livable and enjoyable minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. It would seem that adopting even one of these sometimes profound, sometimes simplistic concepts of living, you can relieve stress in your life; more importantly, life will be a lot more fun.
Examples: Live in the present. When you look around, it's easy to see no one has a guarantee he or she will be here tomorrow; right now is the only time we have control over. When we focus on the present moment, fear of what might happen in the future (and most of these fearful events never happen) goes away so we are more relaxed.
Become more patient. Don't interrupt others or finish their sentences (a sign of impatience that says, "I'm waiting for you to finish so I can talk"). The more patient you are, the more you will accept how it really is, rather than insisting that life should be as you would like it to be. Patience adds ease and acceptance of life so essential for inner peace. Allowing the other person to finish speaking is a mark of patience which improves relationships. Those you are talking with feel more relaxed because they feel you are listening to what they have to say. Result; you enjoy conversations more and are more relaxed rather than rushing through them.
"One thing at a time." Admonishes Carlson. When you do too many things at once, it's impossible to concentrate on the present moment. Result: You cannot fully enjoy the moment because you are less effective and focused.
Here are some chapter titles that illustrate the broad range of anti-anxiety subject matter covered in the book: "Surrender to the Fact that Life Isn't Fair; "Allow Yourself to be Bored; "Seek First to Understand; "Become Aware of Your Moods and Don't Allow Yourself to be Fooled by the Low Ones; "Practice Random Acts of Kindness; "Choose Being Kind Over Being Right; "Every Day, Tell at Least One Person Something You Like, Admire or Appreciate About Them; "Resist The Urge to Criticize; "Write Down Your Five Most Stubborn Positions and See if You Can Soften Them; "Become a Less Aggressive Driver; "Think of What You Have Instead of What You Want; "Think of Your Problems as Potential Teachers; "Get Comfortable Not Knowing; "Remember, One Hundred Years from Now, All New People; "Mind Your Own Business; "Live This Day as if it Were Your Last. It Might Be!"
"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" is a sprightly blend of old ideas and new ideas on how to how to cope with the fiendish pace of the Information Age. You won't recognize most of the old ideas though, because Author Carlson has dressed them up to fit today. In a gentle way, there's something rewarding here for almost everybody.
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on January 24, 2001
I love this book because it is so small that I can carry it with me in my purse. I like to get it out on a break at work and read a chapter on what I feel I need help with; it always picks me up and encourages me. What simple and brief yet wonderful advice! As I read I highlight the areas most applicable to me so that next time I read it I can read exactly what I most need to hear. Most chapters have a space that I use for notes and comments. Keep in mind that this is not a quick read. To make real changes in your life, I recommend this book should be read slowly, one to three chapters a day. When I first began, I tried to read straight through but it just goes in one ear and out the other. You have to read a chapter, stop, and think about it to best apply it to your life and make it work for you.
One of my favorite chapters is chapter six: REMIND YOURSELF THAT WHEN YOU DIE, YOUR "IN BASKET" WON'T BE EMPTY. I think the whole world should read this chapter! Here is an sample:
"SO MANY OF US LIVE OUR LIVES AS IF THE SECRET PURPOSE IS TO SOMEHOW GET EVERYTHING DONE....OFTEN WE CONVINCE OURSELVES THAT OUR OBSESSION WITH OUR "TO DO" LIST IS ONLY TEMPORARY--THAT ONCE WE GET THROUGHT THE LIST, WE'LL BE CALM, RELAXED AND HAPPY. BUT IN REALITY, THIS RARELY HAPPENS. AS ITEMS ARE CHECKED OFF, NEW ONES SIMPLY REPLACE THEM. THE NATURE OF YOUR "IN BASKET" IS THAT IT'S MEANT TO HAVE ITEMS TO BE COMPLETED IN IT--IT'S NOT MEANT TO BE EMPTY....REMEMBER THAT NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR OWN SENSE OF HAPPINESS AND INNER PEACE AND THAT OF YOUR LOVED ONES. IF YOU ARE OBSESSED WITH GETTING EVERYTHING DONE, YOU'LL NEVER HAVE A SENSE OF WELL-BEING! IN REALITY, ALMOST EVERYTHING CAN WAIT...THE PURPOSE OF LIFE ISN'T TO GET IT ALL DONE BUT TO ENJOY EACH STEP ALONG THE WAY AND LIVE A LIFE FILLED WITH LOVE."
The book is organized, in my opinion, to be read in any order you want. Some chapters may be useful to you and some may not now but perhaps later on in your life. I find it very motivational. I think you will enjoy it also.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF...AND IT'S ALL SMALL STUFF--WORDS TO LIVE BY!
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on August 15, 2001
A friend of mine suggested I get this book recently. I felt stressed in a number of areas in my life and when I started reading this I understood why she suggested it to me. Some of Carlson's thoughts and exercises are great and good reminders of what the real priorities in life are about. Learning to "let go" or thinking about the overall picture. I was worried about whether a relationship I'm in would work out or not and I thought of the "Will this really matter a year from now" exercise. And also the chapter on "The Snowball Effect of Your Thinking." A lot of the things in here are kind of common sense, but we never stop to think about these ideas. Things like "Choosing Your Battles Wisely" or "Becoming a Better Listener" just for example.
This book is truly one about ways to improve your life as well as being able to step back, take a deep breath and enjoy life.
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on June 7, 2000
It's not so much a book about helping you handle more stress better, but about making your life better so there won't be so much stress. Nearly all of the little "chapters" contain behavior-altering suggestions that are not easy to do--but that's the hard truth of self improvement. You cannot change behavior overnight, it's the kind of thing that requires day-to-day concentration. Benjamin Franklin discovered his, and wrote about it in his autobiography. He chose a handful of things he wanted to change about himself, and set out to practice one thing each day until he got it down--and it often took him much longer than he anticipated. If you don't want to put forth the effort of self-improvement, especially where stress is concerned, don't buy this book.
This book is easy to read, the suggestions being one to two pages. It may seem like he's "watering" down the facts of stressors and behavior, when in fact this material *must* be simplified in order to be at a level that is concise, direct, and understandable. Some of the 100 suggestions seem to overlap, but in my opinion, it is necessary. There are many aspects to human behavior. For example: Is patience really as simple as we think it is? Or is Mr. Carlson right in helping us with different aspects of it by overlapping the "patience" theme in several chapters? You may just need to decide for yourself.
So, when you're feeling bad about yourself and want to improve, this is a good place for ideas/reminders that can help you from the inside-out. You will have to read it slowly and re-read it again and again, using it as a reference for years to come in order to benefit from its potential effect on your life.
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on January 30, 2000
In "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff!", Dr. Richard Carlson continues to share his infamous wisdom. I know what you're thinking, this book can't apply to you because you or your work are detail oriented by nature. This book, actually, has nothing to do with overlooking details, it merely shows you how to avoid letting little things from taking over your life and putting things in the right perspective. In fact one of the greatest things I read in the book was a little chapter called "Remind Yourself That When You Die, Your In-basket Won't be Empty". Some other thought provoking chapters are entitled "Ask Yourself the Question: Will This Matter a Year from Now?", "Search for the Grain of Truth in Others Opinions", "See the Glass as Already Broken", "When in Doubt About Who's Turn it is To Take Out the Trash, Go Ahead and Take it Out". These and most of the 100 mini-chapters in this book are really quite refreshing in their viewpoint, and quite easy to apply in your own life. As an example, I have learned not to let bad driver's upset me anymore, I simply expect everyone on the road to have a license issued from a "cracker jack box"... so when a near miss happens, I am no longer surprised or upset! This is just one simple way to apply the techniques in "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff". This is a book that the whole office should read, as it's benefits are real and tangible. Dr. Carlson has done it again... well maybe that's why it's still a best-seller.
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on January 20, 2000
I'll be very minimal in words to convey how I feel after reading this book. I can stand in a line that goes around the supermarket several times and I say to myself""How can I control this situation? , No more road rage for me, I don't make fun of other people anymore, In general I am a better person to my wife, kids, peers and everybody out there. Thanks.
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on January 5, 2001
After reading some longer books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First, I expected this book to be a lightweight popular psychology with some worthwhile platitudes and witty observations, but nothing major. I was pleasantly surprised!
This book is really well-written. I will be reading it more than once. I found some powerful and lifechanging new perspectives and it is already helping me to be a calmer, happier person. While a few of the points it made paraphrased concepts from other wisdom literature (like the Seven Habits), those points are still true and the author shed new insight on them. I highly recommend this book to anyone who tends to be made overly anxious by everyday circumstances, or who simply wants to become better at "living in the moment."
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on May 2, 1998
This is marvelous magical book you hold in your hands in which every word written counts without being weighty. Richard Carlson has written a book packed with ideas that will uplift the spirit, open your mind and heart and free you in a delightful easy manner as he guides you into a clearer focusing of your life. He takes our lives and breaks our activities into bit-size pieces to savor and study easily without choking on our whole life all at once. His next book written "Don't Worry, Make Money" is just as direct and as enjoyable to read. Both books are filled with ideas that just make so much sense, you wonder why it wasn't clear to you before, yet somehow you sensed you've know these things all along. Never mind that you couldn't see them before, Richard Carlson is helping you to see them now! Carlson is a real intelligent pied piper who feeds the mind with seemingly simple words but which form profound concepts and ideas without boring or "spoonfeeding" the reader. You'll find that you won't mind sharing these books with others, in fact you may find yourself encouraging others to take a look at them while you are together; but you won't want to loan them overnight you'll rather wish to keep them nearby for easy reference, they become valuable comrades to you. One of the best things about both his books is that that you can start at the beginning, or just pick up a chapter at random, each chapter stands alone, yet works within the framework of the whole work. Kudos to Carlson, thank you for your enlightened writing.
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on November 28, 1999
Can't we all use an eye-opener now and then? This book will make you smile with the simple realization of how often we let life's inconsequentials get the better of us. You'll find yourself nodding and saying, "I've done this..." then agreeing that so much is just SMALL STUFF and not worth sweating over. You will gain a fresher perspective on day to day things that have a tendency to drag you down. Give this little treasure of a book to anyone you care about for the holidays. It's a gift that will keep giving each time they read through it!
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on July 22, 2001
For the most part I enjoyed reading Richard Carlson's book. I've always thought that sweating the small stuff is a major problem in life and that putting things in perspective is an important element in being happy. It was gratifying to have some of these feelings reinforced. Many of his exercises were actually already part of my way of life, but there were also many new ideas that were interesting and helpful.
The main problem I had with this book was that it was too one-sided. Carlson's overall message is suitable for those folks firmly entrenched in the upper-middle class. But for those of us who are still down there with the masses, struggling to make ends meet, Carlson's book is a little too laid-back.
What do you do for instance when your're faced with the dilemma of having to work longer hours so you can put your children through a great college (which they deserve to go to), but because of those long hours you have no time to be with your children in the first place? What do you do when a colleague at work or a neighbor is constantly overstepping his teritory and even though it's not that big a deal, it's really beginning to get you down. These are tough problems- "big stuff" -that involve making tough decisions. Putting these problems in perspective is definitely helpful, but being laid back and accepting is not necessarily the way to go.
By the way, another exercise could have been added to the book. How about - "Lose your temper at least once a month". That at least will help you get out some of the frustration of having to take out the trash everyday!
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